By Anna Guth, Point Reyes Light:
On the treacherous frontlines of the Tubbs Fire that roared through Santa Rosa two years ago, many firefighters left behind the gear that shields them from the harmful chemicals associated with urban fires: the blaze burned so hot and fast, they had to move quicker than the weight would allow.
One-hundred and eighty firefighters who fought Northern California fires during the last two fall seasons are part of a new study facilitated in part by Sharyle Patton, a longtime Bolinas resident and the director of the Biomonitoring Resource Center at Commonweal.
Last month, Ms. Patton received the highest “white helmet” award from the San Francisco Firefighter Cancer Prevention Foundation for her work over the past two decades to address the elevated health risks associated with fighting fires.
“Watching Sharyle and the others take that award was somewhat of a turning point: beyond wondering if there is evidence, we are moving closer toward how we take better of ourselves, of our families,” said Heather Buren, a lieutenant with the San Francisco Fire Department who participated in another recent study on which Ms. Patton worked, involving women firefighters in San Francisco.
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